A Plant-Based Treatment for Triple Negative Breast Cancer

A Plant-Based Treatment for Triple Negative Breast Cancer

Take-Home Message:

A cell feature has been found on triple negative breast cancer cells. This feature, a membrane channel, interacts with the compound capsaicin to promote cell death.


Expression and Functionality of TRPV1 in Breast Cancer Cells

Authors: Weber, L. V. et. al.

Source: Breast Cancer: Targets and Therapy 13 December 2016 volume 8:243-252


Many features have been found on breast cancer cells. These features (such as HER2 and estrogen receptors) serve as targets for cancer therapy. The triple negative breast cancer type does not, at this point, have such targets. Treatment for this type of breast cancer is therefore limited.

Transient receptor potential (TRP) channels in cancer cell membranes are linked to cell growth. TRPV1 has been studied by many groups. Capsaicin, the active component of chili peppers, interacts with TRPV1 to promote cancer cell death.

The investigators collected breast cancer samples and evaluated them for TRP channels. They identified several types. Only two—TRPM7 and TRPV1—were expressed in every breast cancer sample. TRPM7 is expressed in many different cell types, so this target was not studied further.

Breast cancer cells expressed significantly higher levels of TRPV1 than healthy breast cells did. The highest expression of TRPV1 was among the triple negative breast cancer cells.

The group then selected a culture of triple negative breast cancer cells and confirmed that the TRPV1 played an active role in cell function. Once they proved that the feature was not dormant, they applied increasing concentrations of capsaicin to the cells. Capsaicin resulted in cell death by interacting at the TRPV1 membrane channel.

This study identified a cell feature that is highly expressed in triple negative breast cancer. The group showed that applying capsaicin interacts with this feature to promote cell death. Capsaicin derivatives may be effective treatments for triple negative breast cancer in the future.